I’d like to be upbeat and say that this new arrangement is good for Mythic. It’s not, although it could easily be worse. I say that because, while the two divisions are “merging” in some sense, Marc Jacobs is getting the shoe and Rob Denton will become the new head at Mythic, reporting to the head of BioWare, Ray Muzyka, who will become the head of the merged division.
Read this way, it appears less like a merger betweem two divisions and more like Mythic is being handed to BioWare.
This would not be happening if EA considered Mythic a winning division of the company. Instead they are considered a losing division, and one has to think that has a lot to do with promises made about Warhammer’s performance, both publicly and behind closed doors. Those predictions turned out to have been overly optimistic. This is not an entirely fair assessment of the situation at Mythic, as WAR is more an underwhelming success than a disastrous failure, but I’m nearly certain that’s how EA sees it.
What I suspect will happen is that BioWare, currently making an MMO but with no experience at it, will start to peel away expertise and resources from Mythic almost immediately. Over time, especially as we get into the last year or so of SW:TOR’s development, the Mythic cuts will likely be pretty deep, but maybe not for a while. However, Warhammer does appear to be making some money, if its costs are at all in line with the paying customer base. So I don’t think anyone should set themselves on fire and run off into the woods just yet.
What I also suspect is that starting two or three updates down the line, we’ll see WAR’s big patches start to get get less and less ambitious regarding big fixes and mechanical changes, and more filled with stuff that can be createed using existing tools, like quests and programmed seasonal events and the like. The patches may not seem smaller, but they will be less technically demanding. This will be our sign that BioWare is indeed pulling resources away from the WAR team, even if no such thing is ever announced, and I doubt it would be.
If you were hoping, as I was, that we’ll be seeing a revamped server architecture for WAR that alleviates bot the cap and population issues, don’t count on it – I expect those people will be the first ones moved to SW:TOR, and WAR, on paper, has less need for that type of expertise now that it’s launched. WAR will have to find a different way to address population balance issues, likely with in-game incentives.
I do not think that we should rule out the possibility of a WAR retail expansion, and indeed the big hope at Mythic is probably going to be that such an expansion will reinvigorate the game. And it will, but it’ll be temporary unless WAR’s actual problems are addressed – population balance problems and a general shallowness of content. At any rate, I don’t think we’ll see any tangible changes, either announced staffing shifts or game changes to WAR, for 6 to 12 months.
I am also virtually certain that Marc Jacobs will resurface somewhere. A guy with his resume (and by my reckoning, personality type,) is unlikely to stay quiet for all that long. Good luck to him, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on whatever his next project turns out to be.